Fay: Win was nice, but bullpen concerns linger

Posted at 5:40 PM, Apr 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 21:31:04-04

CINCINNATI — At the end of a weird, long day, the Reds were winners of the game and the series -- which is a pretty remarkable thing when your bullpen is flaming up like an oil rig fire.

Tucker Barnhart’s walk-off single in the ninth lifted the Reds to a 6-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies. The game included the requisite bullpen meltdown, a run coming off the board and a ricochet that saved the Reds a run.

“Yet, somehow, someway we found a way to pull the game out,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We’ve been really good in the late-game situations here at home.”

The Reds are 8-7 overall and 7-2 at home. That’s a good place to be: What Reds fan would not have taken a winning record after 15 games?

I know it doesn’t feel good because of the bullpen. And until they get the bullpen at least semi-fixed, the Reds aren’t going to be a threat to contend or even hang around .500.

Whether the bullpen can be fixed as the roster stands is anyone's guess; Price said as much. Someone asked him if he had found any more clarity after Wednesday’s game. Price gave the answer the question deserved:

“You give me your clarity first. Right now, these guys are busting their tails. You know how badly they want to bring together a good outing? It’s not lack of effort or preparation. We just aren’t hitting on all cylinders.”

Or, really, on any cylinders -- the only guy you could say isn’t struggling to some degree is Caleb Cotham.

Later, Price said J.J. Hoover is no longer the closer for now; it will be closer-by-committee. But as we saw Wednesday, the ninth isn’t the lone problem for this bullpen.

Still, the Reds won Wednesday -- and shockingly, if you look at everything that happened in the game.

The Reds took a 3-0 lead on back-to-back home runs from Jay Bruce and Adam Duvall in the second. After that, Colorado pitchers retired 17 in a row.

Then it really got strange.

The Reds kept the lead in the top of seventh when a run was taken off the board. The Rockies had seemingly tied the game on pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn’s single that scored Dustin Garneau.

But the Reds appealed, saying Garneau missed third. Blake Wood, who had replaced Iglesias, threw to third. Umpire Adrian Johnson signaled out.

The Rockies appealed via video. The call stood: A 3-3 game went back to 3-2.

Eugenio Suarez spotted that Garneau had missed the base.

“I always watch the base,” Suarez said. “I asked the umpire. He said, ‘I think he did.’”

The Reds got another huge break in the bottom of the seventh. Ben Paulsen lost Duvall’s high drive in the sun with two outs, scoring Barnhart and Ivan DeJesus Jr., to make it 5-2.

Game over, right? Not with the Reds' bullpen.

Wood gave up a hit and walk to start the inning. Tony Cingrani came in and walked his first batter to load the bases. Cingrani got Nolan Arenado to pop up for the first out. Gerardo Parra knocked a run in with a fielder’s choice.

Another walk by Cingrani reloaded the bases. Paulsen followed with short fly ball to left. Tyler Holt made a dive at it. It went off his glove for a two-run double.

Tie game -- Bullpen Meltdown No. 87 -- but the Reds recovered with another fluke.

The Reds got out of the inning when Mark Reynolds strayed too far off third on a ball that got past the catcher. The ball hit off the brick wall behind the plate and came right back to Barnhart. He threw to third to double off Reynolds.

“That’s how we drew it up,” Barnhart said. 

A 1-2-3 inning by Ross Ohlendorf got the game to the ninth. Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce started the inning with singles. After pinch-hitter Scott Schebler struck out, the Rockies went to a five-man infield.

Barnhart lined one into the vacant lot that was right field.

Game over -- for real this time.

“It’s good to get a win whether it's 20-19 or 2-1,” Barnhart said. “So, yeah, it was good to get this one.”